Monday, November 24, 2008

Million Dollar Ideas #2

Ok, I have another one, since Ben & Jerry's apparently have already taken my first one.

This one is in the improbable field of automobile design. I say "improbable" because lots of people have lots of ideas about improving the automobile, but the car companies generally don't buy in. So those who have money build their own, and those who don't, never have their ideas go mainstream.

One neat idea I like but can't find the link to was a guy in India who basically just carved an "X" in the tops of the cylinders, causing more turbulence in the fuel-air mixture, better burning, etc. He could do away with the transmission entirely, because the power output was high enough. Or something. It was in Popular Mechanics at some point.

Anyway, my idea is a take-off on another Indian innovation: the air car. Instead of storing electicity in a battery, they store highly compressed air, and use its kinetic energy to run the motor. As a bonus, the air coming out is supercooled, so it works as an air conditioner, too. The slight downside is that they have to make the car superlight, and even then it only has a range of about 125 miles.

My idea: hybrid. Like the Prius, but with the air cylinder instead of a battery. Why is it good? Because it's more efficient to store mechanical energy as air pressure than it is to convert it to electricity and back. Also, batteries are heavy and expensive. And dangerous, although I'm not sure that a super-high-pressure cannister is really safe. I imagine you get a pretty big kaboom if that gets punctured.

But there it is. Run with it.

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